In a year where the number of school shootings has eclipsed the number of weeks passed, one may wish to pause for a moment and ponder why there is so much darkness out there?
This post has nothing to do with the gun debate.
That is a deep discussion that seems to create great fervour, and warrants discussion, but isn’t the intended focus of this post.
My interest lies in asking the question, “Why does someone pick up a weapon of any sort, and impose their will upon someone else?”
The gun is just the implement of power.
The simple answer is that for some reason they feel powerless. They feel marginalized. They feel insignificant.
We all search for significance almost from the moment we are born.
We want to be loved, we wants someone to care that we exist. But something else happens that creates an even deeper need for this feeling.
Society applauds significance.
Status, wealth, material things, power, money, fame!
We envy people who we perceive to be significant.
It starts now so early in life. As a child in school what you are wearing (the brand image), who you are friends with, who your parents are friends with, all of this stuff and more seems to matter.
It just get’s worse from there as the world of social media kicks in, how many likes you get, what others say about you, what others post of you doing, it all contributes to this self image frenzy. And it all contributes to a constant conversation; am I IN, or am I OUT?
Being IN is perceived to be status driven, and so the treadmill starts; what school will I go to, or maybe what gang am I in? What team do I play for, or maybe what fraternity/sorority am I in? What degree do I need, or what business do I start? What weight can I lift, or what mountain clan I climb. What car do I pimp up, or which one do I buy?
And now the treadmill just keeps getting faster and faster.
Or maybe, you can’t even contemplate any of the above? Maybe in your circumstances such questions aren’t even a perceived possibility! You think you are so far behind the eight ball, and the world tells you that you are so far down the hill, that you are in darkness?
Whatever your scenario, the bottom line is we as a society have become far too focused on significance through status. And to whether you perceive you aren’t significant at all, or you can’t seem to keep up with the pace of attaining significance, or just when you feel you are finally there someone else comes along and appears to be more significant than you, the bottom line is, you are chasing a ghost!
So here are five things you can do to stop the treadmill and focus on thriving instead of surviving!
#1 — Get Your Mindset Right
The first thing we have to do is recognize that this socially driven need to be significant is simply just a story. You’ve been sold a story that says, “If I do xyz, I will be important, and if you are important, you will be happy, and if you don’t do xyz, you will not be important, and you will therefore be a loser”.
And this story is absolutely false. It’s just a story, all of it!
Once you recognize it is just a story, you can become aware of when you keep coming back to that story as your foundation for self-evaluation. When you become aware, then you can start to recognize a) how much time you spend thinking about this stuff, and b) the fact that these untruths keep circulating and influencing your behaviours.
Once you become aware, you can start to become accountable to your discussion, and shut it down.
There are lots of ways to do it, but one good one is to take five deep breaths.
Yep, just stop what you are doing focus fully and completely on breathing deeply in and deeply out. This is a light switch. If you do this, you will change the line of thought, even for just a short moment in time. But if you do it, and you do it consistently, you will slowly start to shut the chatter down, and move things in a better direction.
You will slowly start to adapt to a new state, one where constant internal abuse will begin to dissipate.
Then you can start to populate your mind with what counts!
#2 — Start Celebrating You
It doesn’t matter how low you are, there is always something you can reflect upon and you can celebrate.
Take stock of the things you have accomplished, the people in your life, the things you have done for others, the things others have done for you.
Notice I didn’t say, “the stuff you have accumulated”.
Exactly, start focusing on thoughts that link to feelings of connection, personal growth, and contribution on your part or towards you. This is real energy, not stuff!
The more positivity you inject into your mind, especially in place of the negative comparative chatter, the more traction you are going to get out of the darkness.
#3 — Connect with the Process of Growth
Instead of setting objectives and just focusing on attaining those things, focus on how you want to grow and the step-by-step process of getting there.
When we get so connected to an objective, chances are we are either going to be left feeling empty shortly after we achieve that objective, or if we don’t we will beat ourselves up about it, or just as bad, others will beat us down.
Sure, you can visualize where you want to be, or how you want to feel when you get to a particular state or place, in fact that is a good way of keeping things in perspective. However, on a day-to-day basis, stay focused on the incremental change, the consistent effort, and the process of growth.
As they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and you will not be either!
#4 Lift Others Around You
The feeling of contributing or assisting the growth and development of others is unparalleled. True and healthy significance comes from the contribution you make to the world and the people around you. How you make them feel. Place your effort behind the quality of your encounters, and the honesty of your give.
Giving begets giving!
#5 Take Care of You!
So many people these days are more interested in taking care of business, getting stuff done, being important, etc. and they play half measures when it comes to their own health and wellbeing.
You have one life. One chance on this earth! There is no guarantee how long you will live, but if you take care of yourself, the quality of the life you will live will be increased significantly. The challenges you will have the energy to persevere through will be impressive. And your ability to reflect, and own the moments will be so much clearer!
In a time where there seems to be so much darkness, let’s start focusing on the light!
Originally published at medium.com